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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday May 19th 2024

Something to Offer

from the series Peace House Community- A Place to Belong


a photo of the author
Marti Maltby

Like many social service organizations, Peace House Community relies on volunteers to achieve its goals. Those who donate their time and, more importantly, their talents enrich the experience of our community when they come to our building. I am always thankful for our volunteers, and I knew we have added several services lately as new volunteers have joined us, but it wasn’t until a week or two ago that I grasped just how much goes on here because of volunteers. If I look only at what our volunteers do directly with the community members, the list reads:

  • Haircuts
  • Hand massages
  • Manicures
  • Art projects
  • Wood carving classes
  • Writers group
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Bicycle repair
  • Neck and back massages
  • Live music during lunch
  • Maintaining our garden
  • Have normal conversations with our members.

This list doesn’t include the behind the scenes work of our volunteers, like sorting donations and maintaining our website.


It’s gotten to the point that I have to look at my calendar to keep track of all the activities here. In the past, when someone asked me what they could do if they volunteered at PHC, I had a couple of set answers ready to go. Now that I have seen so many people use their interests in ways that wouldn’t have occurred to me, my response is, “I don’t know. What do you like doing? We can probably find a way to use that.”

The first thing that made me reconsider our volunteer activities was our latest newsletter. We decided to highlight the volunteers, so I asked them to submit a sentence or two explaining why they enjoyed providing the services they did. I was gratified when the first couple of responses came in. Then impressed when more came in. Then concerned about having enough space in the newsletter as the responses kept coming. Finally, I was compelled to reconsider just how much more vibrant PHC and its community is because so many people have been so generous with their time and their individual interests.

The second thing that made me reconsider our volunteers was someone’s question about how PHC works with other organizations to help the community. I hadn’t thought of PHC as a volunteer before, but between providing speakers to educate groups about urban conditions, organizing neighborhood clean ups days, sitting on the Ventura Village Executive Committee, participating in the Franklin Avenue Business Association, and so on, PHC tries to give as much as it receives.

I don’t write this to promote PHC. Instead, I write this to encourage everyone to think of ways their own skills, experience, and interests can be used or are being used to help others. Just as our volunteers contribute to PHC’s community in ways that wouldn’t have occurred to me, and just as PHC gives to others without me noticing, I think everyone has something to contribute. Some are already doing this without recognizing the impact they have. Others hold back because they don’t think they have anything to offer, but in reality they are simply underestimating their potential to improve the world around them. We all have a lot to give.

Marti Maltby is an avid cyclist, Director at Peace House Community, and an obnoxiously proud Canadian.

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